BANGKOK - Asean Football Championship 2007 co-hosts Thailand defeated the Philippines 4-0 on Sunday to go joint top of Group A with Malaysia, who missed the chance to go through to the semi-finals after their goalless draw with Myanmar in the earlier match at the Supachalasai Stadium.
The Thais were in emphatic form in the first half as they raced to a 3-0 lead but a combination of over-elaborate build up play and poor finishing saw them add just one goal in the second half.
The three-time champions needed a Suchao Nutnum equaliser four minutes into second half stoppage time to salvage a point in their first match against Myanmar but it was clear that they would have no such trouble against the tournament qualifiers, despite the absence of influential skipper Kiatisuk Senamuang.
Thailand signalled their intentions right from kick-off and created the first clear cut chance after just six minutes when Sutee Suksomkit drilled the ball into the side netting after a Datsakorn Thonglao pass had dissected a flimsy Philippines back line.
Four minutes later Anton Del Rosario hit a 25-yard-free-kick just over the bar to remind the Thais of potential danger on the counter-attack but any notions that the near miss by the USA-based defender would curtail their cavalier approach were dispelled as the home side struck three times in a blistering first half performance.
Sarayoot Chaikamdee slipped the ball past Louie Casas from the edge of the box after being put through by Sutee in the 15th minute before the impressive Pipat Thonkanya lifted the ball over the San Beda College keeper from a similar distance for Thailand's second six minutes later.
Pipat turned provider as an unmarked Sarayoot headed home his second of the night in the 28th minute before the forward, who plays his club football in Vietnam with Binh Dinh, fluffed the chance to complete his hat-trick 10 minutes later when he missed a penalty, which was awarded after Emelio Caligdong had upended Chonburi defender Suree Sukha.
Thailand were a shadow of themselves in the second half and it was the Philippines who created the better goal scoring chances after the restart, with Chris Greatwich coming close on three occasions.
The midfielder, wearing the captain's armband in place of the injured Ali Borromeo,bought the best out of Thai keeper Kosin Hathairattanakool with a low curling shot seven minutes into the second half before firing free-kick inches over the bar six minutes later.
Soon after Suree had forced a superb diving save from Casas, Kosin again had to be on his toes to tip a 71st minute header out for a corner as the Thais were struggling to find the fourth goal that would put them level with Malaysia.
It finally came in the 82nd minute when substitute Natthaphong Samana fired home from the angle of the penalty box to consign the Philippines to their second 4-0 defeat of the campaign.